Lightsource Renewable Energy has been granted planning permission to install a 0.96MW solar park at Palfreys Barton Farm in the village of Cove near Tiverton, Devon. However, before the proposed development was green-lit by  Mid-Devon Council, Lightsource identified a local interest group that might be affected by the park’s development.

Conor McGuigan, Business Development Director for Lightsource, explained: “Before we apply for planning permission we always carry out our own viability studies of each proposed site. These include a visual impact report, a flood risk assessment and an ecology report, all of which are intended to make sure the land is used to its full potential and protected in the right way. In the case of Palfreys Barton Farm, our initial ecology report identified two badger setts, both in current use.

“We discussed our findings with Mid-Devon Council and were advised to conduct a detailed badger review. Lightsource worked closely with the council on this matter and the badger review affirmed the setts and identified a number of runs. We proceeded to ensure all construction works and the positioning of the PV panels will take place over 30m away from both setts as set out in Guidance published by Natural England.”

The farm’s livestock will benefit from the solar development too, with the farmer continuing to graze sheep on the solar park – in line with the company's recently-implemented ‘Lightsource Grazing Policy’.

During the pre-planning stage Lightsource wrote to all households within a 1km radius of the proposed solar farm. The company only received one response which indicated that it was in favour of the renewable development. Construction of the solar farm has already begun and, despite the inclement weather, it is hoped the site will be operational by the end of March 2013.